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Saturday 31 December 2016

Get Thee Behind Me

As regular readers will know I'm not normally given to moaning. But it must be said that, one way or another, this has been a bugger of a year. Collectively we've shown ourselves to be a lot less nice than we pretend to be, and we've lost a lot of folks who made it a better place to be.  

Oh well, onwards and upwards, eh? Happy New Year. May your feet be first.

"This Year, This Year" - Curtis Mayfield

"New Year's Eve" - Amy Allison

"My New Year Starts Today" - Courtney Granger

"In Our Bedroom After The War" - Stars

Wednesday 21 December 2016

Women And Nomads

Last post before Christmas, folks. I'm heading off to Morocco for a winter break tomorrow, getting back just before the end of the month - so this may turn out to be the last post of the year as well.

I'm not going to do the usual "these we have lost" tribute - the list is far too long and far too depressing - but here are few of my personal musical highlights.

Man of the Year for both recorded and live music is the great William Bell, for "This Is Where I Live" and his show at the Union Chapel in July. Hiss Golden Messenger get an honourable mention in both categories as well.  Other memorable gigs included the bizarrely brilliant Tuvan-Tuareg combination of Sainkho Namtchylak and Terakaft.

I won't attempt to rank all my favourite tracks of the year, but looking through the list I noticed that a disproportionate number of them were by female singer-songwriters and desert blues ensembles. So here are three of each which may perhaps have passed you by.

"Small Talk" - Julia Jacklin

"Assossamagh" - Imarhan

"Irene" - Courtney Marie Andrews

"Akhar Zaman" - Bombino

"The Girl From The Banks Of The Ohio" - Ana Egge & The Sentimentals

"Ahile Lamma" - Kel Assouf

We'll round things off with the Man of the Year and the Party Hit of the Year. Happy Christmas to all our readers.

Sunday 18 December 2016

Two For The Price Of One

Two for the price of one for you today, from the album of the same name by Larry Williams and Johnny Watson (later Johnny "Guitar" Watson - the album came out in 1967 before he picked up his guitar).

I'm not sure whether the former rocker and future funker came together by natural or artificial means, but either way it works. The album is a fine example of the classic male duo soul sound of the era.

"Two For The Price Of One" - Larry Williams & Johnny Watson

"Mercy Mercy Mercy" - Larry Williams & Johnny Watson

Thursday 15 December 2016

From Freddy To Freddy

I recently picked up for a couple of quid  "Amexica", the 2014 album by Trujillo. I had never heard of him/them before, but it looked interesting. And so it turned out to be.

Extensive research - I googled the press release - reveals that Trujillo is one Freddy Trujillo, a bass-playing singer-songwriter originally from California but now based in Portland. He has been around since the 1980s and played with various bands, of whom the best known is probably Richmond Fontaine.

According to the blurb, "Amexica" is "a kaleidascopic romp through Freddy's own colorful history, with nods to musical heroes as well as odes to fallen friends, personal relationships and his own beloved children", and "nothing less than the sum-total of all dues paid: having played every possible type of venue, crafted every type of song, and immersed himself in the study of his Mexican heritage".

Now that's as maybe, but its a good record. Here are a couple of the highlights, including one of those nods to a musical hero. The musical hero himself appears below, modelling a classic look.

"Santa Fe" - Trujillo

"Freddy Fender" - Trujillo

Sunday 11 December 2016

Single Song Title Sunday

It has been a long time since we've had a proper Single Song Sunday here. This isn't a proper one either, really. Rather than a collection of cover versions, what we have for you is a selection of songs with the same - or very similar - title: "I (or I've) Got A Feeling".

Just like the real Single Song Sundays, we have something for everyone. Top notch Motown, folk, blues and R&B. The Mexican Beatles and a cover of the song by the real Beatles by some Serbian punks with a great name (the performance is less great but it was that or the Laibach version). Some groovy modern gospel. And the Mandatory Reggae Version courtesy of The Heptones.

"I Got A Feeling" - The Four Tops

"I Got A Feeling" - Los Dug Dug's

"I Got A Feeling" - Otis Spann

"I Got A Feeling" - Ricky Nelson

"I Got A Feeling" - Rev Matthew Mickens & The New Highway Travelers

"I've Got A Feeling" - Pentangle

"I've Got A Feeling" - Baby Washington

"I've Got A Feeling" - Elektricni Orgazam

"I've Got A Feeling" - The Heptones

"I've Got A Feelin'" - Big Maybelle 

That's a lot of feelings. And so's this, but stick with it.

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Still Playing Possum

It's been far too long since we had some outright country music misery on here. Let's put that right with the best in the business, the late, great George Jones.

"These Days (I Barely Get By)" - George Jones

"King Of The Mountain" - George Jones

 George may feel that he can't be the king of the mountain when he's a fool on the hill. But you can be both!

Friday 2 December 2016

1989 Time

To ease you into the weekend, three top tunes from 1989, as featured on Volume 7 of Jet Star Records excellent "Reggae Hits" series - the "Now!" of reggae. Something for everyone.

"Zigitup" - Ninjaman & Flourgon

"Take You To The Dance" - Anthony Malvo & Daddy Lizard

"Extra Classic, Super Fantastic" - Vivian Jones

I strongly doubt whether Vivian had this hit from the same year in mind when naming his song. But I may be wrong.

Monday 28 November 2016

Wal's All Right

Some blissful Brazilian sounds from 1974, about which I know nothing except I like them a lot.

For obvious reasons, today's post is dedicated to my friend Gabriela, the Barnacle Queen of Belem.

"O Viajante" - Wal Santana

"Sorriso De Gabriela" - Wal Santana

Saturday 26 November 2016

Pogoing in Pamplona

I've just returned from a week working in Madrid and Paris. It's a tough old life. I didn't get much time to go browsing record shops, but a quick trip to FNAC in Madrid yielded some goodies, most notably the magnificently named "Pink! Pank! Punk! (Volumen 1)".

It is a three CD compilation of early 1980s Spanish punk - 15 bands, 65 tracks. Not speaking the language I am unable to fully appreciate the biting humour and stinging social commentary than undoubtedly permeates the lyrics of all 65, but I don't think even a rudimentary knowledge of Spanish is needed to work out what these three are about.

"Ataque Preventivo de la URSS" - Polanski Y El Ardor

"Aqui Esta El IV Reich" - Conservantes Adulterados

"Oh No, Policia En Accion" - Eskorbuto

As fun as they are, they were not the musical highlight of my trip to Madrid. Strolling through the district of Lavapies last Sunday evening in search of a beer and a bite to eat, my friend and I stumbled upon this gentleman singing in a humble bar. His dress sense, his hairstyle, and most of all his singing, made him instantly a new hero of mine. Ladies and gentlemen, we present the mighty El Rumbero de la Vallecas, accompanied by his son Amilio on guitar:

Friday 18 November 2016

Winter Drawers On

I don't know how it is round your way, but here in Goggins Towers the nights are getting cold. It may soon be time for me to follow the example of Annie and Leona and get out my thermal underwear (which I assume must be what they are referring to). Annie even appears to be able to plug hers into the mains!

"Annie Got Hot Pants Power" - Syl Johnson

"Country Girl With Hot Pants On" - Leona Williams

Tuesday 15 November 2016

Leon Russell R.I.P.

A brief and inadequate tribute to the mighty Leon Russell, who has had the double misfortune of passing away and doing so when many people may have been too busy paying tribute to Leonard Cohen to notice. Let's hope he's made it back to the island.

"Back To The Island" - Leon Russell

"Hummingbird" - Leon Russell

Sunday 13 November 2016

Mauritius in Megadrive

The estimable folks at Strut Records have released a compilation called "Soul Sok Sega", a compilation of sega music, a style that is/ was indigenous to Mauritius. The CD features records from the 1970s, when sega was apparently at the peak of its popularity and creativity.

At twenty tracks, the CD is probably a good half a dozen or so tracks too long, but there is some good stuff on there. Today we feature the wonderfully wonky title track, and an excellent contribution from one Claudio Veeraragoo, a famed innovator who added some Bollywood and qawwali elements to the music.

"Soul Sok Sega" - Ti L'Afrique

"Bhai Aboo" - Claudio

It is a well-known fact that the citizens of Mauritius are known as Maurices. This gent may well have been honorary citizens.

Thursday 10 November 2016

Leaving The Land

If any of our American readers are currently thinking of emigrating, you should be aware that Canada is not the only option. Here are three other nice places you might want to consider.

Disclaimer: I don't know whether there are any visa requirements, and I am not sure whether their websites have recovered from the torrent of enquiries from residents of the UK back in June.

"Love Land" - Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band

"Rainbow Island" - Rita Marley

"Sunshine Country" - Victoria Williams

Saturday 5 November 2016

Boppin' In Brisbane

Some folks might approach a CD called "Australian Rock 'n Roll: The Early Years" with a degree of caution. Not me, I fling myself on such things eagerly, especially when they are going for only 50p.

It was definitely worth 50p; I might even go as high as a couple of quid if pushed. The phrase "The Early Years" is used rather loosely though, as the compilation covers the period 1959-1979. There is some good stuff on there, most of which was new to me. Like these three (well, to be honest, only the second and third are good to listen to, but the first qualifies due to the excellent title).

"He's My Blonde Headed Stompie Wompie Real Gone Surfer Boy" - Little Pattie

"Fool, Fool, Fool" - Ray Brown & The Whispers

"The Real Thing" - Russell Morris

Also featured on the CD were these two old favourites.

Thursday 3 November 2016

Emmanuel and Abdel

Today we have a couple of tracks from the album "Ceasefire". Released in 2005, it is credited to Emmanuel Jal and Abdel Gadir Salim, respectively a rapper and ex-child soldier from what is now South Sudan and a veteran musician from what remains Sudan.

It is described on the blurb as a "unique collaboration" and a "symbolic album reflecting both sides' hope for a peaceful future for Sudan". The collaboration was largely symbolic as well, as they only perform together on less than half the tracks on the album. That's a minor quibble, though. It's a good record. And we have given them a track each today - Emmanuel is on his own "Gua", while Abdel does the bulk of the work on "Ya Salam".

"Gua" -  Emmanuel Jal and Abdel Gadir Salim

"Ya Salam"  - Emmanuel Jal and Abdel Gadir Salim

From Sudan to Susan...

Tuesday 1 November 2016

Stanley The Satanist

I've just returned from a long weekend in Bratislava. Apart from a handful of Slovak singles from the 1960s and 1970s, it was fairly slim pickings in terms of recorded music. But we did spend a most enjoyable evening sharing musical moments with Stanley, the manager of the Tempus Art Cafe.

Stanley is a self-professed Satanist, and undoubtedly the nicest Satanist I have met to date. I don't think it is normal in those circles to lay on cheese scones as bar snacks, for example, but Stanley does. He has rigged up a screen on which to display YouTube videos of his (or your) choice.

While probably inevitably he is a bit of a metalhead, his tastes are varied, taking in Johnny Cash, Louis Armstrong and the theme from "Zorba the Greek". As well as Hungarian rock gods Omega and Czech nutter Ivan Mladek, who provide today's music and video clips respectively.

 "Gyöngyhajú Lány" - Omega

"Olyan Szépen Mosolygott" - Omega

Thursday 20 October 2016

From The Vaults

Apologies for being a bit irregular recently - real live and stuff. And it's about to get worse, as I have got a lot of travelling for work coming up over the next four or five weeks, starting tomorrow for ten days taking in the unlikely combination of Korea and Slovakia (and a brief stop at home to change my socks).

So I'll do what I normally do when I'm going to be away for awhile, and revive some of the songs I played back in the very early days of the blog, when you were all still children.

"Come Along With Me" - Arthur Alexander

"Sam Stone" - Swamp Dogg

"Suavecito" - Traffic Sound

"Mahlalela" - Letta Mbulu

"Let's Stay In And Make Love" - Nick Lowe

"Mainstreet" - Bob Seger

"Kooeoaddi There" - The Incredible String Band

"Rattvikarnas Ganglat" - Kebnekasje

And as an extra treat, here is the first video clip we ever featured. And it's a cracker. See you in November!

Monday 17 October 2016

In The Land Of The Blind

A couple of choice slices of reggae DJing from King Sighter, both on his 1978 album "The One Eyed Giant".

"Brand New Fashion" - King Sighter

"Another Scorcher" - King Sighter

King Sighter's splendid eye-patch got me searching YouTube for videos of other musical eye-patches for today's clip. For people of my generation Moshe Dayan always comes out top of the list, but as none of his Israeli prog rock releases ever bothered the charts there are no suitable clips on video. Having dismissed the claims of Gabrielle in an instant, I arrived inevitably at the great Ray Sawyer.

Saturday 15 October 2016

The Band of Make Believe

Some early seventies soul for you tonight, courtesy of The 8th Day. One of the acts that released records on Holland-Dozier-Holland's Invictus label, the jury seems to be out as to whether - at the time that these two tunes came out - they were a "real" band at all.

Wikipedia seems to think they were 100 Proof Aged In Soul under another name. Other sources think it was a name used by H-D-H to release songs they had recorded with a rotating cast of studio musicians. All sources agree that The 8th Day had a great career in front of them until H-D-H made the mistake of putting together a permanent line-up, after which they disappeared without trace.

"You've Got To Crawl (Before You Walk)" - The 8th Day

"I've Come To Save You" - The 8th Day

Which leads us naturally to another "Eighth Day". Has anyone ever come up with a better song lyric than "Let's make some germs, we'll frighten the worms"? I think not.

Wednesday 12 October 2016

Hellenic Hipsters

I was in Athens the other day and took a stroll down Skoufa Street. It is awash with Hellenic hipsters these days - bearded bods drinking coffee from jam jars, the whole works. So when I turned off at Sina Street, popped into my favourite local second hand record shop, and found a CD proclaiming itself to be "the definitive Greek indie/ alternative compilation", I felt inspired to buy it.

The CD is called "Radio Spectrum", it came out in 2013, and if it is supposedly definitive then I feel no desire to explore that particular scene further. I found the bands all a bit dull and samey, rather like hipsters. Here are a couple of the better efforts.

"Perfect Maniac" - Expert Medicine

"What Are The Chances" - Dusk

For proper Greek alternative music, you still can't beat this lot.

Saturday 8 October 2016

Partially Lucky Dip

I was in Dublin for a couple of days earlier in the week, and managed to find time for a quick trawl in some of the charity shops as well as a visit to the always excellent Freebird Records. I picked up a few goodies that will no doubt find their way onto here in due course.

One of the charity shops was selling CDs that had lost their cases and covers. At 50 cents each I thought it thought it was worth trying a lucky dip, so I bought two that had no information of any sort on the CD, just fancy artwork.

The first turned out to be "Body Riddles" by Clark, released in 2006 - not my cup of tea at all, but it may appeal to those of you who like that sort of thing. The second was much better - 2002's "Lost Horizons" by Lemon Jelly. It includes their hit "Nice Weather For Ducks", which I have always liked, and there are a couple of other decent tracks in a similar vein. I doubt I'll listen to it all the way through very often though.

"Ted" - Clark

"Ramblin' Man" - Lemon Jelly

For the avoidance of any doubt, that "Ramblin' Man" is not this "Ramblin' Man":

Wednesday 5 October 2016

Presidential Address

We have ignored the US Presidential election up to now but I have just been informed that it is a statutory requirement for all blogs to refer to it at least once between now and whenever it is in November that the horror ends (or the true horror begins). So for compliance purposes only, here are some songs more or less loosely inspired by previous Presidents.

"Abraham, Martin and John" - Dion

"Glad I'm Not A Kennedy" - Shona Laing

"Tricky Dick" - The Train Robbers

"Bonzo Goes To Bitburg" - The Ramones

"Companheiro Bush" - Tom Ze

And if you want to know who I'm backing, I'm with Over The Rhine.


Thursday 29 September 2016

Single Song Thursday

Normally we do this on a Sunday, but I'm not going to be here on Sunday so we are doing it today. Here are four fine versions of Don Gibson's great "Sweet Dreams". The MRV (Mandatory Reggae Version) comes courtesy of the Pioneers.

"Sweet Dreams" - Patsy Cline

"Sweet Dreams" - Tommy McLain

"Sweet Dreams" - Mighty Sam

"Sweet Dreams" - The Pioneers

Up next, the legendary Don Gibson.

Saturday 24 September 2016

Shirley on Saturday

It is a terrible omission on my part to have been doing this little blog for so long without ever - as best as I can remember - having featured the mighty Shirley Brown. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, Shirley was second only to Millie Jackson as a purveyor of songs about strong, wronged women, as these two choice cuts show.

"This Used To Be Your House" - Shirley Brown

"If You're Weak Enough" - Shirley Brown

She's still going strong, I'm glad to say, and judging by this clip of her revisiting her big hit a few years ago is still in great voice.

Monday 19 September 2016

The Shipping News

Later this week I am meeting up with a friend of mine who has recently returned home having spent a  month or so as a passenger on a cargo ship going from the UK to South America. By chance, I am currently reading an excellent book called "Down to the Sea in Ships" by Horatio Clare, about his time tagging along on container ships.

As a tribute to these hardy seafarers, here is a selection of songs about ships, both literal and metaphorical. You will notice a certain narrative arc. We don't just throw this stuff together, you know.

"Shipbuilding" - Robert Wyatt

"Tall Ships" - Jon Langford

"Captain Of Your Ship" - Reparata & The Delrons

"Ship On A Stormy Sea" - Jimmy Clanton

"Don't Give Up The Ship Now Baby" - James Govan

"Shipwrecked" - Jerry Williams

Just in case you were wondering, what follows is not part of the narrative arc. Although, if it was, it might explain why events suddenly take a turn for the worse between Reparata and Jimmy Clanton.

Friday 16 September 2016

Ready, Willing and Abel

Let's ease ourselves into the weekend with some mildly funky Ethiopian pop, courtesy of Mr Abel Mulugeta. Don't let the synthetic parping horns fool you into thinking these tracks are from the 1980s. They both come from his album "Tegerme", released in 2014 (or 2007 if you are following the Ethiopian calendar).

"Yaluten Yeblu" - Abel Mulugeta

"Atengrughe" - Abel Mulugeta

Having given Abel a say, it would only be fair to let Kane do the same. There are some synthetic parping horns on this as well, but that is because this really is from the 1980s.

Wednesday 14 September 2016

George 'n Buckey

I went to an excellent show on Sunday night, being held to celebrate Little Roy's 50th year in the music business. Roy himself headlined, with top notch backing from the Mafia & Fluxy band and True Identity.

We have featured Little Roy here fairly recently, so instead we are going to pick out a couple of the support acts. I counted eight in total, rising to ten if you include the solo turns by True Identity and Mafia & Fluxy (as you should).

Personally I thought it was a few too many. Everything was rather rushed, with some acts barely able to finish their number before being hustled off stage to make way for the next. For the 60th anniversary, maybe they should have two or three shows and let everyone have a proper go.

Anyway, two of the three highlights from the undercard were George Dekker, long-time stalwart of the Pioneers, who did a sizzling version of their "Pusherman", and Buckey Ranks - a new name to me - with this song he wrote for his Mum after his Dad died of prostate cancer.

"Pusherman" - The Pioneers

"Hang On Mama" - Buckey Ranks

The third highlight was True Identity. I am a bit biased, as I am proud to say they are friends of mine, but even if they weren't I would be a fan. Hopefully this lo-fi video that I took on the night demonstrates why.

Sunday 11 September 2016

The Last Gospel

This is the Last Gospel, well at least for the moment. These two screeching preachers are featured on a compilation called "Screaming Gospel Holy Rollers Volume 2". We will return when I've tracked down Volume 1.

"I Must Live Until Morning" - Charles Taylor & The Charles Taylor Singers

"All Over Me" - Reverend Crum & His Mighty Golden Keys

And here is some slightly less sacred screaming.

Thursday 8 September 2016

Hit The Decks

This is a public service announcement. If any of our readers in the East London area had plans to go to the Eleanor Arms in Bow on Friday or Saturday night to enjoy the ever-tasteful music collection of superstar landlord/DJ 'The Minestrone of Sound', we would strongly advise against it.

Frankie and Lesley are having an extremely well-earned holiday and, in a momentary lapse of reason, have asked me to stand in as the music man. If you do happen to pop in, please come over and say hello. I'll be the middle-aged man next to the door looking baffled by technology.

To get me suitably psyched up for the occasion, tonight we feature songs by and about some of my fellow Toilers at the Turntable.

"Uxikumile" - DJ Brian (featuring Amos Ngomane)

"Mi Kolombia" - Systema Solar (featuring DJ Fresh)

"Listen DJ" - Sandra Cross

"Mr DJ" - Stan Mosley

And, of course, no feature on DJs would be complete without our old friend Sven.

Sunday 4 September 2016

The Titans Of Turk

You know, like the Sultans of Swing, only more Turkish (and therefore probably more sultan-ish as well).

I'm off to Ankara tomorrow for a few days. It's a work trip and I doubt I'll have any chance to go scouting for sounds. Fortunately we have a fair bit in stock already. Here are three of the aforementioned titans.

"Hal Hal" - Baris Manco

"Yaylalar" - Selda Bagcan

"Estarabim" - Erkin Koray

Friday 2 September 2016

New Trolls For Old

One of the most common criticisms of this blog - apart from "what happened to the Tsonga disco then?" - is that we don't feature enough Italian progressive rock bands. That's true, and there is a very good reason for it, which anyone who has ever listened to Italian progressive rock will understand.

However, when such bands knock out some perfectly good proper music instead it would be wrong to close our ears to their efforts. Which is why tonight we feature the veteran New Trolls (fifty years young next year folks). These two are from 1968 and 1978 respectively.

"Ho Veduto" - New Trolls

"Aldebaran" - New Trolls

 According to Wikipedia, due to differences between the remaining original members of the band, there are currently two versions of New Trolls doing the rounds. How unlike our own dear Sweet.

Sunday 28 August 2016

Bum Bum Bonanza

It's Carnival weekend here in London so I was going to give you a selection of road march tunes. But as so often happens, especially in the hot weather, I found myself distracted by all the bum bum. So while we start with a recent soca hit and end with an old soca standard, we detour via Spain and Brazil en route.

"Bum Bum" - Third Bass (a.k.a. Trilo-G)

"Bum Bum" - Chacho

"Bum Bum Chika Bum" - Vijay Verma

"Sugar Bum Bum" - Lord Kitchener

I had hoped to add a video of Carl Malcolm's "Fattie Bum Bum" but fortunately for you there don't seem to be any. So here is some vintage Kitch. You are getting the better of the deal.

Friday 26 August 2016

Good Knight, Bad Knight

I have been worn down by George's persistent nagging, Here is some more gospel, this time courtesy of the fiery-throated Marie Knight. The first track is from 1955, the second from 1975, and there is no sign that the fire diminished in the interim.

Despite this devotion Marie - like all of us - is fallible. In 1958 she slipped, as our third selection records. I am not sure why Marie got quite so agitated about what the neighbours thought. As she should know, it is not their judgement that ultimately matters. And even if she were able to hide her sins from them, she cannot hide them from the Lord. Goodness me, no.

"The Storm Is Passing Over" - Marie Knight 

"Jesus Met The Woman At The Well" - Marie Knight

"I Thought I Told You Not To Tell Them" - Marie Knight

Elvis was as devout as Marie, but somewhat confused. He mistakenly believed that it was the well, rather than Jesus, that could bless his soul.

Tuesday 23 August 2016

Ernie's Dating Agency

As much to my surprise as yours, there turns out to be a second instalment of our planned new series in which we aim to bring together well-matched musicians who are looking for love. Ms Bramlett, Mr Holman is the answer to your question.

"Where's Eddie?" - Bonnie Bramlett

"Eddie's My Name" - Eddie Holman

Without wishing to burden you with my secret sorrow, there is a noticeable shortage of women asking the question "Where's Ernie?" at the moment. So much so that - just like my more famous, handsome and charismatic namesake -  my only company of an evening is a rubber duck.

Sunday 21 August 2016

Sammy and Scots on Sunday

Evening all. We have a couple of tracks for you tonight from "Designing the Wall of Sound", a double CD compilation of early Phil Spector productions.

I have chosen "Falling" simply because I think its a great pop song. The second selection is dedicated to the Caledonian contingent among our readership. It will either stir their Scottish souls, or lead them to the view that Mr Spector should remain locked up, and preferably with the key thrown away.

"Falling" - Sammy Turner

"Loch Lomond" - The Castle Kings

Judging by the rather weedy shout of "Hoots Mon", I strongly suspect the Castle Kings were heavily influenced by this early folk-rock classic.

Tuesday 16 August 2016

Gospel Tuesday

A few weeks ago I erroneously asserted that Wednesday night was Gospel night. It turns out I was wrong. Apologies for any confusion caused. Here is some crazed Christian crooning courtesy of Sister Wynona Carr.

"15 Rounds For Jesus" - Sister Wynona Carr

"Operator, Operator" - Sister Wynona Carr

One of the downsides of the many advances in telephonic technology of the last forty or fifty years is that, by removing the need for a telephone operator to act as an intermediary, the great tradition of "operator" songs has all but dried up. Here are two of the finest (well, one of the finest and "Sylvia's Mother").

Friday 12 August 2016

Olympics Special

To mark the Rio Olympics we present a couple of belting Brazilian tunes, and we combine it with a special Scottish tribute to the competitors in general and today's plucky British gold medallists in particular.

"La Lupita" - Nico Gomez

"Eu Sou Mais Eu" - Anna Mazzotti 

"The Olympian" - The Skids

"The Boat That I Row" - Lulu

Wednesday 10 August 2016


The other day I picked up a copy of "Penance", the 1995 album by an outfit called The She. There were two reasons: it was only 20p, and it was released on the famous Liverpool label Probe Plus, best known as the home of Half Man Half Biscuit.

The She turned out to be nothing special. But it does give me an excuse to play not only the Biscuits but also the first - and probably still the best - record ever released by Probe Plus. Written about the Toxteth riots in 1980, and produced by Dennis Bovell, I played this obsessively for a bit when it first came out. Apart from the mildly cringeworthy attempts to say "man" in a Caribbean accent, it still sounds as good today.

"Piggie In The Middle Eight" - Cook Da Books

"D'Ya Ken Ted Moult?" - Half Man Half Biscuit

"Pour No More" - The She

Inexplicably, "Piggie In The Middle Eight" failed to achieve the same level of chart success as one of the records Dennis Bovell had written and produced the year before.

Saturday 6 August 2016

Every Day Is Otis Clay Day

A few weeks ago I was raving about a great concert I had been to by William Bell, and about his new album "This Is Where I Live", which found him sounding as good as ever at 77. There is some good news for those of you in or near London, which is that he is coming back to play at the Barbican in November. I'll see you there.

Another of my favourite soul singers, who was still sounding great right up to his sad death at the beginning of the year, is Otis Clay. When I was in the States in June I came across an album of his that I had not known existed - it obviously didn't get much promotional push at the time. It is called "Truth Is", it came out in 2012 when he was a mere lad of 70, and it is worth making a bit of effort to track it down.

"Love's After Me" - Otis Clay

"I Keep Trying Not To Break Down" - Otis Clay

Wednesday 3 August 2016

Hello Lord, Maceo Calling

Wednesday night is gospel night here on 27 Leggies. Well, when else could it be? Enjoy the soaring yet soothing sounds of the Reverend Maceo Woods and friends. With some Edwin Hawkins Singers as a little bonus treat. Introduction courtesy of Mr Johnny Cash.

"Hello Sunshine" - Reverend Maceo Woods and the Tabernacle Concert Choir

"I'll Get Home Someday" - Reverend Maceo Woods and the Tabernacle Concert Choir

Sunday 31 July 2016

Single Song Sunday

After a bit of a hiatus, Single Song Sunday returns. And it's a bit of a corker, even though I say so myself. Of course, it helps that we've chosen one of the many classic tunes Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham seemed to be able to churn out at will in the 1960s - "I'm Your Puppet".

We start with Dan's own version from his 1994 album "Do Right Man", which leads into the hit (and still best) version by James and Bobby Purify from 1966. After that was a smash, the soul royalty piled in as the next few covers show. So, later on, did any number of weedy indie types. The Mandatory Reggae Version comes courtesy of Jimmy London (Dandy Livingston's is also worth checking out), and we end with a special treat for Mister F.

"I'm Your Puppet" - Dan Penn

"I'm Your Puppet" - James & Bobby Purify

"I'm Your Puppet" - Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell

"I'm Your Puppet" - Dionne Warwick

"I'm Your Puppet" - Irma Thomas

"I'm Your Puppet" - Joe Pernice

"I'm Your Puppet" - Jimmy London

"I'm Your Puppet" - Dave Kusworth

After James & Bobby Purify's success with the song, any number of duets tackled it. Marvin & Tammi, obviously, Sam & Dave, Mel & Tim etc. I've spared you the Elton John and Paul Young attempt, but felt I had to include this one just because the combination of duet partners is so unlikely.

Thursday 28 July 2016

Ernie's Dating Agency

This may or may not turn out to be a regular series - probably not, knowing me - but I think there is a need for someone to help lovelorn musicians to find like-minded souls.

Let's start with these two. They are clearly made for each other.

"Man From Mars" - Butch Paulson

"Girl From Mars" - Ash

Monday 25 July 2016

One Man's Meat

Today's theme, for no reason other than first of these popped up on the old iPod shuffle this morning, is poison. Nasty!

Most of you will know Graham Parker and probably The Sonics, while veterans of the punk wars like Mister F will remember The Lurkers well (if not necessarily fondly). Hemlock - it says here - were a short-lived outfit who released one self-titled album in 1973. The main man was Miller Anderson, one of those unsung heroes of the British music scene in the 1960s and 1970s (as this interview from a few years ago demonstrates).

"Cyanide" - The Lurkers

"Strychnine" - The Sonics

"Mercury Poisoning" - Graham Parker

"Broken Dreamer" - Hemlock

Wednesday 20 July 2016

He's There In The Distance

Another post, another death to report. This one is personal. A good friend of mine died of lung cancer last night, barely four months after it was first diagnosed.

Amongst his many other fine qualities was a great enthusiasm for life in general and music in particular - the last time I was due to see him was at a Fotheringay reunion gig last month, but unfortunately he wasn't well enough to make it. Two of his main musical passions were Fairport and Family, so these two tracks sort of pick themselves.

RIP Chris. Missing you already.

"Meet On The Ledge" - Fairport Convention

"My Friend The Sun" - Family


Monday 18 July 2016

Average-Sized Earl And The Girls

Yesterday afternoon saw us in Brockwell Park, basking in the sunshine at the annual Lambeth Country Fair. The main reason for going was to support my friends True Identity - who I have written about before - who were in turn supporting Little Roy as his backing singers. The weather contributed to a big turn-out, and it was great to see them strut their stuff in front of a much larger audience than usual. I am sure they got many new fans in the process.

Little Roy was no mean shakes himself. His choice of sobriquet is a bit of a mystery. His real name is Earl and, from where I was standing, he did not look particularly little. But Average-Sized Earl isn't much of a stage name I suppose. I can only assume that having settled on Roy, he found there was another, more established, one he had to distinguish himself from. Perhaps Roy Shirley. Or maybe even The Big O.

"Hard Fighter" - Little Roy

"Christopher Columbus" - Little Roy

Wednesday 13 July 2016

Clear As A Bell

On Saturday Mister F and I went to what for me is the gig of the year to date. Soul legend William Bell was at the Union Chapel promoting his fantastic new album "This Is Where I Live" - his first on Stax for about 40 years, and it sounds like he never left.

The set was a mixture of songs from the album and old favourites (and there were some old favourites in the audience as well - Nick Lowe and Paul Weller were mooching about and competing over who has the most silvery hair). It was wonderful from start to finish, and Mr Bell's voice is still amazing - all the more so when you consider he turns 77 on Saturday.

I'm not going to post any downloads from the new album, because this is one you really need to go out and buy straight away. But to whet your appetite the first YouTube clip is a live acoustic version of the first single off the album, "The Three Of Me". To get you there, two of my personal favourites from his back catalogue.

"If You Really Love Him" - William Bell

"A Smile Can't Hide (A Broken Heart)" - William Bell

Saturday 9 July 2016

Italian Exports

What you are about to hear is not a figment of your warped imaginations. It is entirely real. As hard as you might find it to believe that there is a Mongolian throat-singing version of "O Solo Mio", it is true. Here is the evidence. And what better to pair it with than Barry White's pop-reggae version of "Volare".

"O Solo Mio" -  N. Naranbadrakh

"Volare" - Barry White

We'll round things off with another Italian standard.

Thursday 7 July 2016

Bargain Binns

Who can resist someone called Bongo Tony Binns? Not me.

"Love I Madly" - Bongo Tony Binns

"Ever Strong" - Bongo Tony Binns

I was having a coffee yesterday and became increasingly convinced that I knew the waitress from somewhere. Eventually it dawned on me that she was a dead ringer for Corinne Drewery, AKA That Woman Out Of Swing Out Sister. Hence the clip.

Monday 4 July 2016

Biscuits, Blues and Hippies

I got home yesterday, and it seems I picked a good time to be away from the UK. Between the politics and the football, about the only people who are happy are Welsh 'Leave' voters.

Even in better times, I would recommend San Francisco as a place to visit. It was my first time there, and I definitely want to return, if only to spend a couple of days in Amoeba Music making my way through the huge selection of used CDs in a more methodical fashion than was possible on this occasion.

I also saw a couple of good shows while I was there. The first was at the excellent Biscuit and Blues club just off Union Square, where Chris Cain and his band played a fine set with the help of their guest, guitarist Volker Strifler (all the way from Heidelberg).

The next day I was strolling through Union Square itself at about 6pm when I came across a group of old hippies setting up on stage, with a larger group of old hippies gathering in eager anticipation. There was also a group of women dressed as Donald Duck gathering to protest against Mr Trump, but that is another story. Anyway the old hippies on stage turned out to be called Moonalice and they entertained us royally for the next couple of hours. As you might suspect, what with it being San Francisco, they are very much in the Grateful Dead style, so not something I would be likely to listen to much at home. But they put on a very good show.

Here's a little something from both of them.

"On This Fine Morning" - Chris Cain

"Greenport" - Moonalice

And we will finish off with one of the many bands to emerge from the San Francisco music scene of the 1960s.

Thursday 23 June 2016

Memory Lane

Come Saturday morning I'll be tootling off for a week or so. As is sort of traditional on these occasions, here are a selection of tracks we first featured back in 2009, when this blog was taking baby steps.

The first two tracks are particularly appropriate with the weather we have had today. The Fotheringay track is also apt, as I am off to see them - or the surviving members at least - in concert tomorrow. By contrast, I doubt there is ever an appropriate time to play Bobby Hendricks' "sakkie-sakkie" version of "Agadoo". What was I thinking?

"I Like London When It Rains" - Blossom Dearie

"The Thunderer" - Dion

"Gypsy Davey" -  Fotheringay

"Let's Have A Party" - Geraldo Pino

"What You Gawn Do?" - Curtis Mayfield

"Agadoo" - Bobby Hendricks

And where I am tootling off to, you may ask? Well that would be telling, wouldn't it.

Sunday 19 June 2016

Keeping Up With The Joneses

Eight songs by people called Jones, and not a Welsh person amongst them. Nothing against the Welsh, I hasten to add, and we'll put it right in a big way when we get to the YouTube clips.

Today is my buddy Gail's birthday. She has been a great support to me over the years, and even more than ever recently. The title of the Jacqueline Jones track sums up exactly what she does for me, so it is dedicated to her.

And as today is also Father's Day and my Dad has a very impressive Roman nose, "Little Caesar" is dedicated to him.

"You Made My Life A Sunny Day" - Jacqueline Jones

"Little Caesar" - Sammy Jones

"The Lone Ranger" - George Jones

"Help Me Make Up My Mind" - Joyce Jones

"Bad Bad Boy" - Paul Jones

"Just You And Me" - Tamiko Jones

"Day Dreaming" - I Jones

"The Gospel of Carlos, Norman and Smith" - Rickie Lee Jones

Wednesday 15 June 2016

Doo What?

Short and sweet tonight. Two tracks from a compilation called "Doo-Wop Soul Volume 3", followed by some real authentic doo-wop in the clip.

"Cherry Lips" - The Robins

"Tonite Tonite" - The Mello Kings

Sunday 12 June 2016

Eat Crayfish!

How better to pass a slightly miserable Sunday afternoon that by digging out possibly the most emblematic Afrikaans rock album of all time. Don't snigger, there really is such a thing. It's "Eat Kreef!", the 1989 debut album by the late, lamented Johannes Kerkorrel and his pals in the Gereformeerde Blues Band.

Obviously you miss out a bit if you neither understand the language nor the context which gave it such an impact - I can't help with the former but you can read up on the Voelvry Movement - but it is still worth a few minutes of your time.

"Hillbrow" - Johannes Kerkorrel en die Gereformeerde Blues Band

"BMW" - Johannes Kerkorrel en die Gereformeerde Blues Band

Today's clip is a bit of a gem. It is from South African TV in 1989, it starts with Johannes and the boys miming to "Sit Dit Af" while bopping around what appears to be someone's living room, leads in to an interview conducted by Evita Bezuidenhout - who will take too long to explain but is a sort of political Afrikaans Edna Everage - and ends with "Donker Donker Land" which is oddly all the more moving for having Evita gazing dramatically at Johannes in the background. Have fun!

Wednesday 8 June 2016

South African Selection

If you find yourself in the Gardens district of Cape Town, there is a second hand record shop that I can never remember the name of - not very helpful I know, but if you ask a local they can direct you I'm sure.

In many respects its a excellent shop, with a huge selection of vinyl in particular. But in one respect it is in a bit of an unwelcome time warp. Because you could spend all day in there and you are unlikely to find more than a handful of records by black South African artists. I am sure this just reflects the abandoned record collections of their clientele rather than being a deliberate management policy, but it is a shame nonetheless.

Anyway, I was in there the other week and came across a job lot of promo compilation CDs of South African music. Called "Selection", they were issued by the radio station 5FM in the mid-2000s. As they were going for the equivalent of about 40p each I chose a few at random.

Unfortunately, like the record store itself, they aren't really very representative of the breadth of the local music scene, consisting mostly of rather derivative indie rock and hip-hop. But there are a few goodies, including these two from Volumes 10 and 11, both of which came out in 2005.

"Engimthandayo" - Mfiliseni Magubane

"Sana Lwam" - Zola (featuring Unathi)

Yes, folks. For authentic indigenous African music, look no further.

Saturday 4 June 2016

Two Of The Greatest

As seems to be happening far too often this year, we are scrapping the planned post to pay inadequate tribute to a couple of legends. This time it is the greatest fiddle player of all time and The Greatest full stop. RIP Muhammad Ali and Dave Swarbrick.

"Cassius Clay" - Dennis Alcapone

"Cassius Clay" - Tabu Ley Rochereau

"Muhammad Ali" - Tom Russell

"Black Superman" - Johnny Wakelin

"The Bonny Black Hare" - Fairport Convention

"The Hen's March/ The Four Poster Bed" - Fairport Convention

Tuesday 31 May 2016

Ollie Days

I'm back from my annual trip to South Africa, laden down with assorted Tsonga and other musical goodies for you to enjoy.

More of that anon. But first here are a couple of cracking soul tunes from 1968 by Ollie & The Nightingales. Formerly gospel group the Dixie Nightingales, they sold their souls and went secular when they joined Stax in 1968, changing their name in the process. Ollie was lead singer Ollie Hoskins.

These Nightingales are not to be confused with Birmingham's own Nightingales, who are still going strong after more than 35 years. Or indeed with Maxine Nightingale, who may be as well - let's hope so anyway.

"Brace Myself For The Fall" - Ollie & The Nightingales

"I've Never Found A Girl" -  Ollie & The Nightingales

"Paraffin Brain" - The Nightingales

Wednesday 18 May 2016

It's That Time Again

I'm off on my hols tomorrow. Normally on these occasions I delve into the archives to give another spin to tracks that were featured way back in the early days of the blog. But we are breaking with tradition and instead featuring some brand new music (I know, I know, I'm not sure either, but let's give it a go).

I get sent quite a lot of promo tracks. Most of them I never get round to listening to, but I try to find time to check out at least a few. And I've struck lucky recently - there seems to be a lot of good stuff about. Here is a small selection from albums that are either just out or just about to be out, all of which are worth a listen.

"Walk In The Park" - Still Parade (from "Concrete Vision")

"Drapetomania" - Ted C. Fox (from "A Gospel of Dirt")

"Men Without Hats" - The Burning Hell (from "Public Library")

"Kogarashi" - Kikagaku Moyo (from "House in the Tall Grass")

"Querelles Inter-Minables" - Alpha Blondy (from "Positive Energy")

The other tradition when I go on holiday is to sign off with this clip. I do not envisage ever deviating from that tradition.

Monday 16 May 2016

Multiple Choice Exam


"What Kind Of Girl (Do You Think I Am?)" - The Charmaines


A. "The Worrying Kind" - The Ark

B. "The Jealous Kind" - Bobby Charles

C. "The Rebel Kind" - The Chicks

D. "The Choking Kind" - Jimmy Riley

E. "The Roving Kind" - Guy Mitchell

The first correct answer in the comments box get some sort of prize or other.

Ms Donna Summer's entry has not been accepted because "Lovesun" is not a proper word.

Saturday 14 May 2016


Being a proud resident of Tower Hamlets for the last twenty years or so, I have a tendency to look down on all things Hackney. Even our hipsters are more exotically bewhiskered than theirs. So when I was invited to see an outfit called the Hackney Colliery Band at our very own Wilton's Music Hall I was a bit sniffy.

I am graciously willing to concede that I was wrong. Until the Tower Hamlets Timpani Orchestra gets into its stride, they have bettered us.

The Colliery Band is a nine piece ensemble - two on percussion, seven on brass - and they put on a bloody good show. I began to warm to them when the man with a sousaphone arrived on stage - you don't see enough sousaphones, certainly not being used as part of a tight rhythm section - and things kept getting warmer after that. A funky, friendly 90 minutes followed.

Regular readers will know I'm useless at describing music. But if I tell you that my favourite of their original numbers - "The Morning" - had a bit of a Hugh Masekela vibe that hopefully gives you the general idea. An even better idea would be to go to their website, watch some of the clips and check the dates for their UK tour that starts next week. If they are playing anywhere near you I would encourage you to go along.

But first, here are some more brass-tastic tunes for you to enjoy.

"MRA" - Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath

"Fat Mama" - Tito Chicoma Y Su Orquesta

"You In Your Small Corner" - If

"Movin'" - Brass Construction

A brass band last night. Eurovision tonight. What clip could possibly combine the two?

Wednesday 11 May 2016

More Mongols

In recent weeks we have treated you to some Mongolian hip-hop and some Mongolian throat singing. Now it is time for some Mongolian indie pop-rock, for want of a better description.

Close followers of the Mongolian indie scene may already have guessed that I am talking about The Colors. The two tracks featured today - both from their 2014 album "Unuudur Heden on Be? Noyon Tagtaa" - are from the poppier end of their repetoire. The album also has some longer, heavier stuff for those of you who like that sort of thing - I don't much. But this stuff is not bad, and "Ehlel" is a bit of a corker in its own way.

"Ehlel" - The Colors

"Huuhdiin Duu" - The Colors

And linking back to our previous post, here is Donovan with his heartfelt tribute to these Mongolian pop pioneers.

Saturday 7 May 2016

Sunshine - Super, Man!

I have always had a bit of a weakness for weedy Scottish hippies, as anyone who has heard me ramble on about the Incredible String Band will know. So when I get a chance to go to Donovan's 70th birthday bash at the London Palladium last night I leapt at it.

While his voice may be occasionally wavery, Donovan still puts on a good show. He was up on stage for an hour and three quarters and treated us to a nice mix of the hits and less often heard but fondly remembered album tracks (even "Remember The Alamo"!). And his apparent conviction that everything was to be played in D until instructed otherwise by the band was endearing.

I was particularly pleased to hear these three personal favourites. And it was worth the admission money just to hear him finish the set with the incomparable "Atlantis".

"Sunny Goodge Street" - Donovan

"Barabajagal" - Donovan & The Jeff Beck Group

"Lalena" - Donovan

Thursday 5 May 2016

It's Here, George!

Our regular reader George has been pestering me almost incessantly over the last week or so for a photo of the giant Genghiz Khan statue and some Mongolian throat singing. So here they are. The throat singing (or "khoomei" as they call it in Mongolia) comes courtesy of one Sereenen Bayasgalan. We have one track from the traditional end of the khoomei spectrum and the other from the pop end. The first one sounds rather like a Scotsman clearing his throat, which might explain why George is so keen.

"Khoomiin Turul" - Sereenen Bayasgalan

"Gariin Arvan Horuu" - Sereenen Bayasgalan

As far as I'm aware Sereenen Bayasgalan is no relation to acclaimed English actor Sereenen McKellen. Who by extraordinary coincidence appears in  today's video clip.

Sunday 1 May 2016

Sunday Six

While the rest of you have been spending your Sunday frolicking around, I have been beavering away at work catching up on the things I should have been doing when I was frolicking around last week. Being the only one in the office I was able to whack the iPod on shuffle and sing along to my heart's content without disturbing anybody.

Here are six of the things I sang along to - fortunately for you, without my guest vocals - starting with the great Lord Invader. Arise, King Bedbug The First!

"Reincarnation" - Lord Invader

 "Chances Go Around" - Titus Turner

"Teenage Head" - The Flaming Groovies

"Sheebeen Queen" - Rikki Ililonga & Musi-O-Tunya

"Sing The Delta" - Iris Dement

"Take It Easy On Me" - A House

And I truly massacred this one...

Friday 29 April 2016

Straight Outta Ulaanbaatar

Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring you what I confidently predict will be the future of music - Mongolian Hip Hop. Here are a couple of tracks from a groundbreaking compilation titled simply "Hip Hop 2016" which I picked up for 3500 tugruk (just over £1) at a garage on the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar. I'm not entirely sure it was legit, so I can't promise you'll find it on Amazon.

"Buhydeere" - Saryuna x Dze

"Oroolon" - Desant (featuring Solo)

I could be wrong about this being the future of music, of course. I have been before. I spent several hours in 1980 convinced this lot were going to be massive.

Tuesday 26 April 2016

A Little More Love

I was going to do another RIP post today, but its getting out of hand - Prince, Papa Wemba, Billy Paul and Lonnie Mack in the last week alone. So instead let's try and cheer ourselves up with some Zulu chirpiness courtesy of Mr Lovemore Majaivana.

"Amagwala" - Lovemore Majaivana

"Guga Mzimba" - Lovemore Majaivana

On the subject of love more, I was underwhelmed by the Daily Star's "exclusive" revelation that Prince had a "secret sex dungeon". Of course he did, he's Prince! The existence of his sex dungeon is surely no more of a secret than the identity of the celebrity with the super-injunction.

Friday 15 April 2016

Ulaanbaatar Beckons

Sorry about the lack of service round here lately, folks. I've been a bit preoccupied with real life this past week, including getting ready to fly out early tomorrow morning for two days' work... in Mongolia.

Unfortunately I am only able to stay on for a few days extra so won't get the chance to explore the country. But I will be making a special trip to the largest equestrian statue in the world. And you can be sure I will be clearing an afternoon in my schedule to make my way round the charity shops of Ulaanbaatar in search of vintage Mongolian reggae albums. Watch this space.

I haven't had time to prepare any music, so you will have to make do with two videos. The first is a tribute to the great Mongol leader. The second - I discovered while researching my trip - is an interpretation of an old Mongol folk tune. The original tells the story of a nomadic herdsman mourning the loss of his beast of burden in a snowstorm on the mighty Mongolian steppe. His sadness turns to delight when the beast finds its way back to him, and the song celebrates the return of the yak. Some of this got lost in translation I feel.

Sunday 10 April 2016

Sunday Riddle

Q: What do you get if you take "Wolverton Mountain", "Patches" and "Big Iron", then mash them up (in both senses of the phrase)?

A: Josey Wales, of course

"Wolverton Mountain" - Claude King

"Patches" - Clarence Carter

"Big Iron" - Marty Robbins

"Cowboy Style" - Josey Wales

Josey (real name: Joseph Sterling) obviously got his nom de plume from the Clint Eastwood character of the same name. So here is a bit of Clint.

Wednesday 6 April 2016

Sing Merle Back Home

My God, when is this going to end. We've lost the Hag now. RIP Merle, and thanks for everything.

"Sing Me Back Home" - Merle Haggard

"If I Could Only Fly" - Merle Haggard

"Silver Wings" - Merle Haggard

"I Take A Lot Of Pride In What I Am" - Merle Haggard

Sunday 3 April 2016

First Class Sounds

For Record Store Day next Saturday, VP Records will be releasing a limited edition box of vinyl singles called "First Class Rocksteady" which contains what they rightly describe as "14 classic rocksteady gems". Apparently this is being done to mark 50 years of rocksteady, which sounds like an entirely spurious anniversary to me. But never mind, it provides an excuse to reissue some fantastic tunes.

It is not entirely clear from the blurb I have been sent whether the box set will be available anywhere other than VP's own stores in New York and Miami. Fortunately they kindly sent me a few samples to share with you, just in case it can't be found in your local record store. Here are the sweet, sweet sounds of the Melodians, followed by some tough talking from a very young Errol Dunkley.

And if you happen to find yourself in Miami next Saturday, you really ought to pop into VP Records. As well as picking up a copy of "First Class Rocksteady", you can enjoy a DJ set by none other than the legendary King Jammy.

"Last Train To Ecstasy" - The Melodians

"You're Gonna Need Me" - Errol Dunkley

And here is some more first class music.

Wednesday 30 March 2016

Sing Something Syl

For no reason other than he is bloody good and we haven't featured him before, here are a couple of early 1970s tracks from the mighty Syl Johnson. One tells of love arriving, the other of love departing.

"I Want To Take You Home (To See Mama)" - Syl Johnson

"Any Way The Wind Blows" - Syl Johnson

As you have probably worked out, Syl is short for Sylvester. But Mr Johnson is not to be confused with this Sylvester.

Or this Sylvester.

Saturday 26 March 2016

Tsonga Saturday

We are keeping on with the catching up with the Tsonga CDs I bought last year and had not got round to sharing. This time out we hear from Percy Mfana, with two tracks from his 2012 album "Ni Lo Bebula". I had not come across Percy previously but this was his ninth album. If they are all as good as this I will need to start tracking down his back catalogue. The second track features guest vocals from Sunglen (of Sunglen & Flora fame).

"Ximbyindlimbyindli" - Percy Mfana

"Bahani Nghoma" - Percy Mfana (featuring Sunglen)

 More Percy! This clip appears to be an extended promo for his sixth album, although it was only posted last month so who knows. Settle back for just under twenty minutes of fun, fun, fun.

Thursday 24 March 2016

Jimmy Riley RIP

I was very saddened to learn yesterday of the death from cancer of the wonderful reggae singer Jimmy Riley. Here is a brief and inadequate tribute to the great man. RIP Mr Riley.

"Love And Devotion" - Jimmy Riley

"Feeling Is Believing" - Jimmy Riley

Sunday 20 March 2016

Single Song Sunday

This month's "Single Song Sunday" features a Randy Newman song that I chose because it was overcast earlier. Needless to say it has turned into a lovely sunny weather. That's the British weather for you, folks, guaranteed to mess up your plans.

Alongside Randy himself we have heavyweights such as Nina Simone, Joe Cocker, Peggy Lee and - in the clip - Dusty Springfield. The Mandatory Reggae Version comes from, ahem, UB40 (in my defence, this was very early in their career when they were still pretty good). Keeping it in the family, we also feature Ali and Robin Campbell's dear old dad, Ian Campbell.

"I Think It's Going To Rain Today" - Randy Newman

"I Think It's Going To Rain Today" - Peggy Lee

"I Think It's Going To Rain Today" - Nina Simone

"I Think It's Going To Rain Today" - Maxine Weldon

"I Think It's Going To Rain Today" - Joe Cocker

"I Think It's Gonna Rain Today" - Pierce Turner

"I Think It's Going To Rain Today" - The Ian Campbell Folk Group

"I Think It's Going To Rain Today" - UB40

Friday 18 March 2016

Nick 'n Kel

I have been to a couple of very enjoyable - but very different - gigs in the last week or so.

The first was at the Sebright Arms in Bethnal Green last weekend. The headliner was Nick Garrie, who was responsible for one of the great "lost" albums of the psychedelic era, "The Nightmare of J.B. Stanislas". The album has been rediscovered in the last ten years, and fortunately Mr Garrie is still around to enjoy live. The main support came from Raf & O, the main competition from Personality Barmaid, who appeared to be under the impression we were there to listen to her.

On Wednesday night I was in Brussels, and discovered that Kel Assouf - the Tuareg blues band from Niger - were in town. So I popped along to Ancienne Belgique to watch, and am very glad I did. For me they were not quite as good as fellow desert blues dudes Terakaft were a couple of weeks back, and maybe a little too prone to lengthy guitar jams, but they are still well worth seeing if you get a chance.

 Here is a track from each of them. Nick's comes from "Stanislas", The Kel's from their latest album "Tikounen".

"Can I Stay With You" - Nick Garrie

"Izlan Nala" - Kel Assouf

Today's clip is a tribute to Steve Young, who passed away earlier in the week. I saw him centuries ago at the Cambridge Folk Festival, but didn't fully appreciate quite how good he was until I got hold of his "Switchblades of Love" album many years after that. You should track it down. I couldn't find any decent clips of Steve, so instead here is Waylon Jennings with one of his best known songs.

Monday 14 March 2016

Another Tsonga Monday

Our last few bulletins from the Tsonga music frontline have featured protagonists from both sides of the Chauke/ Maluleke divide. But there are plenty of non-aligned musicians as well. One such is Simon Baloyi, whose series of "Swisolo" albums with the delightful Manguru Sisters are worth rooting round for. Today's tracks come from the fifth album in the series, "Wa Dya Gama Na?".

 "Wa Dya Gama Na?" - Simon Baloyi & Manguru Sisters

"Xigobozi" - Simon Baloyi & Manguru Sisters

If any of you are wondering what the lyrics mean, I can't help I'm afraid. I have no idea what Simon says.

Friday 11 March 2016

Roach In The Tourist Bus

Over the last few years, the Soul Jazz label has been churning out a series of excellent vintage reggae compilations. One of the best is "Dancehall 2" which, as the name implies, brings together some great stuff from the early days of dancehall.

For me it was worth the money just for the full length version of Errol Scorcher's magnificent "Roach In De Corner", as my much treasured copy of the original 12" is now almost unplayable. Here it is, with a couple more treats to set you up for the weekend.

"Roach In De Corner" - Errol Scorcher

"Tourist Season" - Barry Brown

"Ina De Bus" - Professor Nuts

From a roach in the corner in 1979 to a rat in the kitchen in 1986. Where did it all go wrong?